Florida: The Nature Conservancy Funds Purchase of Land Along Rainbow River in Partnership with Southwest Florida Water Management District

Rainbow Springs is one of the largest first magnitude springs in Florida.

Maitland, FL | March 28, 2017

Today, The Nature Conservancy has provided funding to the Southwest Florida Water Management District to support the purchase of a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Rainbow River in Marion County. This important parcel consists of nearly 115 acres and includes almost a half mile of river frontage. Its wetland shoreline of giant bald cypress trees is the last major undeveloped property along this natural river corridor.

“The purchase of this critical piece of land on the banks of the Rainbow River continues the Conservancy’s commitment to protection of essential lands and waters, including the great rivers and watersheds throughout our state,” said Greg Knecht, Deputy Director, The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “We’re excited to partner with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to support their mission to protect water resources.”

The river and surrounding land hosts unique array of aquatic plants and animals, and provides a home to several federal and state listed species including the wood stork, snowy egret, little blue heron, tricolored heron, white ibis, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The purchase by the District and their intent to maintain its natural state will result in ongoing benefits in flood protection and water quality, and preserve natural systems and wildlife habitat, outcomes in alignment with the Conservancy’s mission.

The property expands the connection between Rainbow Springs State Park to the east and the Rainbow River. Rainbow Springs, one of the largest first magnitude springs in Florida, feeds the Rainbow River which flows for approximately 5.7 miles until it merges into the Withlacoochee River. The conservation significance of the Rainbow River has been recognized previously -- it has federal designation as a National Natural Landmark and state recognition as both an Outstanding Florida Water and an Aquatic Preserve.

The Conservancy has committed $250,000 to the purchase of the Rainbow River Ranch tract through our Private Grant Agreement for Land Assist program. Along with Florida Forever Funds, the District will purchase the conservation lands for $3,914,893.

“We are proud to partner with such an outstanding conservation organization who shares our passion for protecting our water resources,” said Brian Armstrong, Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The District will work cooperatively with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Florida Park Service to develop an agreement to manage the park as part of the adjoining Rainbow Springs State Park.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Fran Perchick
The Nature Conservancy


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